Royals Sign Three to Minor League Deals


While the dust continues to settle on the James Shields acquisition, the Royals went out and signed a few veterans as potential depth today.

Pitchers George Sherrill and Dan Wheeler and outfielder Willy Taveras signed minor league contracts with Kansas City today and will likely be invited to spring training.

The Taveras signing was announced first. Taveras is a former Astro, Rockie, Red and National who’s mostly a speed kind of player. His best season came in 2007 when he was 25 years old when he hit .320/.367/.382 and had 33 stolen bases for the Rockies. In 2008, he didn’t get on base as often, but when he did, he was on the move, stealing 68 bases, enough to lead the NL. He’s your typical low-power, high-contact kind of player who would provide pinch-running duties and spell other outfielders. He’s likely to end up in Omaha if he performs well. Taveras turns 31 years old on Christmas Day.

June 5, 2011; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Dan Wheeler (35) throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. Boston defeated Oakland 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Wheeler’s spent most of his time with the Rays and Astros with two stretches of strong performance in his career. In 2005 and 2006, he threw 144.2 innings out of the bullpen and struck out 137 on his way to a combined 2.36 ERA and 184 ERA+ in the National League. During the Rays rise to contender status, he was solid as well. In 2008 and 2009 he threw 124 innings for a 3.19 ERA and allowed less than one runner per inning with a 0.935 WHIP. That stretch made him a Type A free agent before he signed with Boston, but he was merely average in 2011. In 2012 with the Indians, he struggled, but was strong in Triple A.

Sherrill is coming off of Tommy John surgery in May. He’s been a part of the Mariners, Orioles, Dodgers and Braves organizations, including closing for Baltimore in 2008 and 2009 until he was traded at the deadline to the Dodgers. When he’s healthy, he’s dominant against left-handed batters. Over his career, left-handed batters have a .531 OPS against him. He could be a LOOGY if he makes it to the big league club.

Taveras is unlikely to have an impact, but the two relievers could give the Royals options in the middle of the season. Their bullpen is strong as it is with Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Greg Holland (and I don’t want to leave out Louis Coleman either), but if there’s a point where the Royals could trade a young reliever to get something important in return, they may entertain the idea with depth available. Dayton Moore has shown the ability to find relievers from the scrap heap in the past who could contribute at a high level to the major league team, so Wheeler and Sherrill could just add to his success record on that front.

And the best thing is that if nobody pans out, the Royals haven’t committed much of anything but the time to figure it out. It’s playing with house money if someone becomes a factor.